Thursday, 23 August 2012

Post-Meles Stress Disorder

                                         The late PM Meles Zenawi, Google picture

Following the announcement by the government in Ethiopia of the death of the late Prime Minister Meles Zenawi, the cyber world witnessed heated debates over his legacy. I could identify three major lines of arguments or groups of people. One, there are several people who compassionately argue that the death of Meles is roughly equivalent to the death of Ethiopia's and Africa's future. They labeled the late minister a national hero, a genius, courageous, developmental, and irreplaceable. These group of people admire his initiatives to: make basic education accessible, provide village-level health services, construct asphalted roads in all parts of the country, build large-scale hydroelectric dams, champion the free use of mother tongue and culture, strengthen pan-Africanism, and fight for Africa and the developing world when it comes to climate change and development aid.

Two, there are others who vehemently oppose the first line of argument; they take it that the premier is indeed the Century's curse on Ethiopia. They mentioned a lot awful accomplishments the minister oversaw over the last two decades and hence, they consider his 'passage' as a real blessing that will neutralize the curse. They point their fingers at him for his: ill-engineered federal system that actually aimed at national disunity and tension, undisclosed border deals with our neighbors, dysfunctional higher education system, carelessness to our national image, disrespect for Ethiopian history and culture, contempt to his colleagues and the Ethiopian people, phobic behavior to media and the opposition, campaign against scholars, inability to make a difference between his private/personal views and his stances as a national leader, bogus interference in religion, and his excessive abuse of national security force for his party advantages.

At the middle ‘reside’ others who seem to apply the "do not curse the dead" principle. They seem to have an unfavorable attitude towards Meles but for moral and ethical and/or cultural grounds, they do not want to throw out nasty terms against the deceased. They try to ‘mediate’ between the aforementioned groups of people.   

To me, expressing own feelings and thoughts about virtually everything is one which defines humanity. If we are responsible citizens, we need to carefully attend to what is happening in and to Ethiopia and then react properly. What is bad is getting crazy about fellows who seem to hold different views.  One could see terrible insults and curses on Facebook, for instance. That interferes with our natural, God-given right. Let everyone 'air' her/his thoughts and the only thing we need to do against terrible arguments is to reply, by resorting to the power of reason, evidence, and decency.  That is it. Everyone has the right to curse or bless the late Meles.

To me, the saga about his legacy will lead us nowhere. We better focus on the mechanisms by which we can 'exploit' this opportunity. I do not however mean that we do not have to worry about meticulously recording what Meles did to and against us; we have to do it but at a later stage. Perhaps a more fruitful question to raise now is: What will happen ahead? This question is as big as titanic and as smooth as silk. It is a bit hard, even to accomplished experts, to make a political prognosis about Ethiopia. A lot issues are simply unexplainable. It is easier to translate  the question into what we would like to see in the near future.

I have a short list of expectations from the current/future leadership of the country. My expectations are neither original nor huge; they are few and cost nothing if one thinks of national interest. If Ethiopia is to prosper and prosper, the government must do the following irrespective of conditions.
  • Unconditionally release ALL political prisoners 
  • Retreat from churches and mosques 
  • Ensure national reconciliation and unity
  • Involve all Diaspora Ethiopians in nation building
  • Create a genuine and lasting political space for the opposition
  • Form an all-encompassing transitional government after EPRDF completes its term   
  • Then create all the institutional capacities needed to run a genuinely free and fair election
  • Fix the crisis the higher education sector is engulfed in  
  • Make a clear distinction between party and government apparatus and properties
  • Create an environment where all nations and nationalities ease their tensions
  • Allow media to flourish once again, and in summary
  • Accept that Ethiopia needs and deserves real changes

Ethiopia will excel!


  1. I agree. The problem is if EPRDF accept the points you listed, it will stop being EPRDF. In addition, they see no reason to revisit their approach which made Meles a 'Hero'. For EPRDF the end justify the means.
    Teklu, If I have good writing skill like yours, I will also write about the Mass Amensia that we are witnessing now. Most people seems to remember Nile Dam and the last five years of Meles, not the remaining 15 years of repression.

  2. Thanks Dr.Teklu for your views. I completely agree on the issues you raised and the way forward to see a better Ethiopia for all of us.

  3. Dear Teklu, thank you sharing your view point on this point. I pretty much agree with what you have presented. Bbut, I think, you seem to have missed out probably the two most important issues Meles is strongly criticized for:
    1. He made the country land-locked for the first time in its history. And, when he had a chance to re-claim the right to have access to a sea he strongly argued against it.

    2. He presided over a regime which implemented a systematically discriminatory policy which favored Tigray and ethnic Tigres.

  4. I agree anonymous! These are the worst things he did to Ethiopia. But I do not claim exhaustiveness in my presentation. Thanks for the useful comments!

  5. This is good and I agree... But I would like to add one more which i believe #1...
    Unity to exist among the different nations and nationalities, offical and national forgiveness is required.As long as I know, lots have been done for 20 years to split the people by race,religion,sex,etc just for political and economical advantage. Now EPRDF has to work on reverse Engingeering (Preaching about unity).

    One thing to remind : Generation comes and generation goes. 85 million Ethiopian people means like a drop of water in an ocean. We are like a point in a history book.
    --Forgiveness has to be the first step to make the people ONE!

  6. Selam Teklu,
    Good wish is always precies. But I don't think it could come to the truth. What we need to expect from dictators is that contrary to the fact.

  7. Teklu! How much you look the government of Ethiopia and how the nations and nationalities of Ethiopia are united and working with seems doom for you. why? Always as there are good wishers there are also bad wishers, this is a historical phenomenia, whatever attitude you have as to me it is accepted. What I should say is, it should be realistic. Ya, Everything is developmental and nothing is complete by itself from the beginning. Thus why the policies and strategies of the Ethiopia government are relatively workable and will develop more in time and space through the feedbacks of the people and our friends around. You recommendation are not part of the system, they are totally against the system, you are not fixing the system but changing the whole system and that what you have to understand is that no body will compromise with such. The system is a true people´s system, with some limitations, which is realized as a result of our long and bloody struggle of our people. It is not realized just by setting and marmaring at the corners of the European and American Cafs.

  8. How do you understand development as an economist? There are people who want to inplant a system based on the neo-liberalist thinking, which is totally selling our country´s interest to the western, but on the other side you are saying the starving and poverty of our people, which is abusard under this line. By the way, what are your economic plans and how you want implement them, so that sooner or later poverty will be a history in the country.(if there are as such, but to be realistic you have nothing) It should not only be a mental exercise but a practical one. Why you oppose the development polcies, like building dams, electrifications, education boom, federalism for the basic rights of the nations and nationalities, how the people are fighting against the nature to alleviate themselves from poverty. The particpation of federal states in the central government and how the multi-party sytem is working, in fact because of the bad profil of the opposition parties it is not well exercising. Why you are planning to regear the engine of the people´s revolution back to the old system? Why you want to ignite unrest in the country in the name Synods or Muslium´s right? You want just to distrub the ongoing development, so that people will strave, so that you will get some opportunties to leader the power and start your unjust rule? Are you thinking like this or you are dreaming to bring something manna from the heaven which is quite different from our system endviours? I know some elitist groups working against the system not because they are planning to bring a system which is better than this but because that is the only one to exist(to keep their personalities)for them just by making this occasional dram. What I feel sorry is other individuals who are confused by this dogmatic approach are echoing their dreams. You know I don´t even see any substance as an individual to believe their arguments and claims. What the propagate and always say is against one nationalty, they fabricate news, always they try to create confusion among the people. For them everything done in our country is bad, for them nothing is perceived as development in our country, for them everything is done for the benefits of the Tigraians, for them the country is at unrest, for them boarder disputes are good, for them bad image of the country is acceptable, anway, everything good for the country is bad for them. They have a distractive mentality and they want to see everything being distracted.


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